Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Misfits of Mayfair #2
Publication Date: 6/29/21
Period: May 1820 – Regency Era
Number of Pages: 400
I was very impressed with this author’s debut novel, Any Rogue Will Do, and have been excitedly waiting to see how her second release would fare. Well, the answer is in – I LOVED it. Cal was one of my favorite characters in the first book, and I am delighted he has gotten his well-deserved HEA in this book. The prose is outstanding, the story flows flawlessly from beginning to end and the characters are relatable, likable, and could easily become friends if we knew them in real life.
Calvin (Cal) Carlyle, Earl of Carlyle, heir to the Marquess of Eastly, is a fixer. He always feels it is his responsibility to fix problems for his friend and family. He’s very good at that, but it is often to his detriment – especially when those family members don’t really appreciate it or him. They are vain to the extreme and just take him for granted. The Marquess is a profligate who moves through the world without a thought to anyone other than himself. He leaves illegitimate offspring everywhere, spends recklessly, wagers recklessly, and then just expects Cal to clean it all up. Cal’s sister, Emma, is just as self-centered and reckless as their father. She goes through her life without a thought about the consequences of her actions – until those consequences catch up to her.
Calvin’s father has gone beyond the pale this time. He invested heavily on an investment when Cal had cautioned him to invest much more modestly. Then, on top of that, he made a wager he couldn’t possibly pay unless the investment pays out. That doesn’t trouble the marquess in the least because if the marquess can’t pay, the winner is perfectly willing to take Cal as his son-in-law. Cal has no intention of becoming that son-in-law, but he’s going to have a time working his way out of that. He’ll have to handle it carefully. Cal just isn’t good at telling his father no, even though there is no way for the marquess to force Cal to marry.
Adam Hardwick, AKA Ophelia (Phee) Hardwick is a survivor. Adam and Ophelia are orphaned twins who were thrust into the guardianship of their vile, odious uncle Milton Keating when they were very young. At the age of thirteen, the uncle sent Adam away to school and drew up marriage contracts for Ophelia to marry a very old and odious man. When Adam accidentally died, Ophelia began living as Adam and went to school in his place and Adam was buried under Ophelia’s name. Now, she’s been living as a man for ten years and wouldn’t have a clue how to behave as a woman. That deception works well for her – until she is attacked – and her best friend and employer, Calvin Carlyle, comes to her aid.
When Cal discovers Adam is really Ophelia, he wonders how he never saw it before. He’d always felt an affinity for Adam – and now he feels a full-force attraction that quickly becomes love. Cal has to manage to keep Phee safe, see that she continues to love him, and somehow manage to thwart his father’s schemes to marry him off to the winner of the bet’s daughter. It is fun to watch Cal screw it all up – the poor boy just can’t seem to go against his nature. Winning and keeping Phee may be one of those things he just can’t fix.
What do I think could be improved? I think the wording, descriptions, etc. sound very American in what is supposed to be nineteenth-century England. Anachronistic word choices – also sound very American, but weren’t in use at the time – for instance, ‘scrapper’ didn’t come into use until 1874, and then it was used for a pugilist. It didn’t come to stand for anyone who puts up a fight until later. It isn’t usual for an earl’s last name to match his title. I guess it is just that word usages and choices, situations, etc. just sound very American to me and perhaps the author could spend a bit more time immersed in that period in England.
However, the bottom line for me is that it was a lovely, witty, fun story featuring lovely people and I’m glad to have read it and I hope you will love it as well. The next book, All Rogues Lead to London, will feature Emma, Cal’s sister. I’m so looking forward to that because Emma grew exponentially as a person in this book and I can’t wait to see what happens with her. I also hope we see something dire happen with Roxbury AND I’d like to see Emma’s child inherit Milton’s estate. Grand payback I’d say.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.